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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Kale With Crispy Capers

Say goodbye to sad, limp greens. A quick sauté of Brussels sprouts and baby kale keeps the veggies bright and fresh, and cooking them on the stove will save you oven space on Thanksgiving Day. Prepping for the big meal in advance? Slice the Brussels sprouts, onion, and long red pepper (if you can’t find one, substitute a Serrano) a few days prior, and refrigerate in airtight containers. If you have a food processor, take advantage of its slicing blade—it makes quick work of the sprouts. And don’t skip the capers—frying them in olive oil makes them deliciously crisp, and adds a briny flavor to the final dish.

Olive Shortbread

You might think of shortbread as a sweet cookie, but in reality it’s just a method for creating an extra-buttery dough, meaning it can lean savory, too. There’s just a little bit of brown sugar in the dough, giving these an addictive “what is that?” element. Look for oil-cured olives, which are dry-cured in salt, making them less bitter and chewier than normal olives. Make this an entire appetizer platter by pairing with soft, fresh goat cheese, roasted almonds, fresh rosemary, and honey.

Hazelnut Shortbread

Hazelnuts are famous for being paired with chocolate, but this simple, buttery shortbread allows their golden flavor to take center stage. If you bought raw, skin-on hazelnuts, it’s easy to take the skins off. Simple toast them in the oven at 350º F until the nuts are golden and the skins are starting to split, 12 to 15 minutes. Then, transfer to a clean kitchen towel and rub until the papery skins start to come off. They’ll cling to the towel, making your job even easier. Let them cool completely before chopping and proceeding with the recipe.

Black and White Chocolate Pretzels

Fair warning: these Black and White Chocolate Pretzels are the kind of treat that can cause a family feud. The salt-meets-sweet combination is addictive, what with the two kinds of chocolate, salt, and crunchy sugar on top. You can use either vanilla or peppermint extract for the recipe, or, make one batch of each. If you’re planning to gift these, why not include the recipe? They’ll likely ask for it afterwards, anyways.

Pizza Pretzel Nuggets

Here’s an important question: Why aren’t pizza and pretzels getting together more often? To make these, you create a seasoned paste with tomato paste, oil, and all the spices that make pizza taste so good. Toss that all with hard pretzels (the kind you can buy from Snyder’s, for example) and bake. If you’re bringing these as a hostess gift, here’s a fun idea for packaging: Buy a six-pack of beer and slide a bag of the nuggets into one of the beer sleeves. Of course, they’d stand alone as a gift, too.

Apple Butter

This is the perfect recipe to cook with a glut of apples at the end of the fall. Apple butter is one of those diverse condiments that often gets overlooked, but it shouldn’t. It’s equally at home on a slice of toast as it is spooned over a bowl of ice cream. If you’re planning to gift jars of this sweetened spread, why not include serving suggestions? That way your hard work won’t languish in anyone’s fridge.

Monte Cristo

Monte Cristos are retro in all the best ways. You start with a ham and cheese sandwich that has a generous coating of Dijon mustard, and then dip it in a French Toast-style batter of eggs and milk. Once the sandwich is fried in salted butter (yes, that’s right) you dust with powdered sugar and serve dipped in jam. It sounds crazy, but it’s totally delicious. Make this for a decadent breakfast or cut into bite-sized pieces for a cocktail party hors d’oeuvre.

Crab Rangoons

Crab Rangoons, also known as crab puffs, aren't traditional by any means—but that doesn’t mean they’re not delicious! Fried wontons are stuffed with cream cheese, crab meat, and scallions to create an addictive appetizer. To evenly distribute the cream cheese filling between the wrappers, use a 1¼-inch cookie scoop. Serve hot with sweet chili sauce (such as Mae Ploy brand), and, if the occasion calls for it, an umbrella-topped Tiki drink, too.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These cookies come together incredibly quickly thanks to a microwave and a one-bowl method. They’re rich and chocolatey and are the perfect holiday addition to your dessert table. For easy portioning of the dough, coat your cookie scoop with nonstick cooking spray, which will help the dough release more easily. To change it up for a a mint-chocolate vibe, add a little peppermint extract to the dough. If by any chance you’ve got leftover cookies, crumble them up for an ice cream sundae.